Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream

Aaand we’re back! It’s been awhile since I’ve updated!

Winter is coming back around again, and for me, that means I need to revert back to my heavier moisturizers. I decided to splurge a little bit on Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream after reading a few good reviews about it’s moisture retention. I didn’t love the $30 price tag on a 1.7 fl. oz bottle, but I definitely got my money’s worth, even if the cream didn’t do exactly what I was hoping it would do.

Despite advertising as lightweight, this white cream is pretty thick when it’s straight out of the bottle, and it’s not the easiest to spread out over your skin. This is a good thing in terms of longevity, usually, although sometimes the heavier creams tend to make me itchy after the fourth or fifth hour. Not so with Kiehl’s though. It certainly lives up to it’s “lightweight” expectation in the end: it doesn’t feel heavy at all once absorbed, it’s not itchy, nor does it lose it’s ability to retain moisture. Bonus points, it doesn’t leave any sort of white cast behind on your skin, despite the fact that it is a cream.

It’s rare that I feel that a moisturizer has actually improved my skin texture in the long run, but because of the staying power of this cream — and I dare say it might be close to 24 hours — I think it did play a part in preventing from my skin from drying out, thus giving it less of a chance for irritation. It doesn’t clog pores, my breakouts decreased, and my skin texture felt overall better over the course of a few months.

The ingredient list has a couple of different oils in it, mixed with glycerin, both of which helps to keep the skin moisturized for a long period of time. Most notable is probably the squalane oil, which is meant to mimic your own skin’s natural oils. There’s also a trace amount of Salicyclic acid in the moisturizer, which I think is an… interesting addition, give that this is meant to be a moisturizer, but it doesn’t decrease the efficacy of the overall product. The only thing I didn’t love was that BHT, a known carcinogen, was slipped in at the end — hopefully in tiny quantities, but I still wish Kiehl’s had left it out.

This cream is definitely worth the $30. Despite the small product size, it takes quite a while to get through the bottle, and I’m still hanging onto at least half after three months of daily use. If you have sensitive skin or acne, I’d recommend giving this cream a chance in your daily regimen. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 4.8/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes!

MAC Matte Lipstick

Lipstick is largely uncharted territory for me, since I’m not a particularly “careful” person, and my proclivity to smear or smudge it off is high. I decide, whilst wearing lipstick, it is a great time to drink out of every single mug and glass I can find, or wipe my face on my hand for some reason (classy, I know). But out of the handful of lipsticks I’ve tried in my life, this one is close error-proof. I got this as a gift from someone, and I’m very grateful to her for introducing me to it!

I have this in three colors, two of which are mauve and deep red tones (but aren’t in front of me currently — I think Marrakesh and Sin?). The one I carry around with me is Chili. I love the color payout on all of these — they’re very consistent and bold while not being TOO overwhelming — but Chili is by far my favorite. It’s a great classic red, without being gaudy.

These are indeed matte lipsticks, and they dry down almost immediately. Initially, it makes the color difficult to spread out, but it only needs a small swipe or two extra to fill any missed spots on your lips — after that, it seems to fill out on it’s own. I don’t use lip liner generally, and I don’t think that this lipstick looks “weird” without it, which is great. It’s also not prone to bleeding.

On the topic of matte, this lipstick is drying, which is to be expected. This is both good and bad for me. Bad, in the sense I am an Aquaphor/Vaseline on lips at all times type of person, and prefer the sensation of having hydrated lips over lipstick. But the fact it’s so dry is actually good. This doesn’t really rub off as easily as other lipsticks I’ve tried — the lipstick-on-coffee-mug factor is relatively low. On good days, I’ve been able to still see the color after seven hours (results not typical, though). It’s also withstood rain! I do like that the lipstick color really just “fades out” instead of cracking your lips as it dries out and flakes off.

Chili has a permanent home in my on-the-go makeup bag. Even though I don’t use lipstick on my day-to-day, it’s been perfect for surprise events. I think it’s worth the $16 buy if you’re a careless, irresponsible lipstick user like me!

Happy Holidays to all my wonderful readers! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 4/5

Rohto Melano CC Vitamin C

I was really excited to start this product. I was convinced it would be a miracle in a tube. R/skincareaddiction and R/asianbeauty had more or less given this Vitamin C serum Holy Grail status, and this serum uses the most-effective Vit C delivery method of ascorbic acid. What’s not to like? But it just didn’t do anything for me at all.

I will say I love the packaging. The tube packaging won’t allow for any light to come in to break down the Vitamin C. Just the very fact that it’s in a tube is great, I personally feel like that’s way more convenient than a dropper. For some reason, my first usage sort of surprised me: the clear liquid comes out of the tube very slowly when you push it out, but it is a serum, and is watery to the touch. Normally you don’t picture any serum to be physically slow-moving!

You only need a finger tip or two’s worth of product to cover your whole face in a layer of this. It does take a minute to dry, but once it does, it dries fully. It’s easy to put extra layers on over this (just don’t use niacinamide! It lessens Vitamin C’s efficacy). There’s a very faint copper-y smell that’s typical of Vitamin C products, but it goes away almost immediately upon application. Just wash your hands after you use it, so that smell does not persist.

I’ve been using this product for about 3 months, every other day in the mornings. Short-term, once this product dries, my face does seem pretty bright, but that could just be the sheen from the serum in general. Long-term, I just really don’t see any results whatsoever in my skin quality — I don’t notice overall brightening, fine line decreases, or noticeable acne prevention. On the plus side, I didn’t experience any negative effects, like breakouts. There was just… nothing. Nothing happened.

The price point on this tube is awesome: $10. I didn’t find that I was getting to the bottom of the tube until month three, so the amount of product is pretty impressive, particularly because it hadn’t broken down and turned orange (which is a sign that the product is starting to go bad). This product doesn’t oxidize nearly as quick as other Vit C products I’ve used in the past, so that’s another plus.

Even though it didn’t work for me personally, I would still recommend it. I would even recommend it to sensitive skin users to try out, as well. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 1.5/5

Longevity: 2/5

How much I actually like this product: 3/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

Tanwise Self-Tanning Face Gel

This stuff works, but at what cost? The cost of your beautiful, blemish-free skin! This self-tanner is king at clogging pores.

This is a cheap find at Sally’s for $7. I went in to Sally’s a few days ago and noticed that the packaging for all Tanwise products had changed since I bought my bottle, so I’m not sure if that infers an ingredient reformulation was done as well.

This comes out as a white gel-cream. The smell is a little tough to describe, and there’s nothing “flowery” or “fresh” covering it up: you know that smell you smell, when you walk into a hair salon…? That’s what this is. It’s easy to spread, you really only need two pea sized dollops to cover your whole face.

The gel will very quickly develop on your skin and turn your skin a reasonable shade of brown, I’d say about 2-3 levels darker than your base even after the first usage, which to me is a pretty good result. And, it’s not orange! I never had an issue with the color getting blotchy or streaky, even after layering other products over it. Which brings me to my next point, this lotion works very well with anything else you use before or after it, moisturizers or makeup. The staying power of this self-tanner is pretty good too, even if you wash your face frequently — two to three days will pass before you’ll need to go in with another application.

The bad news: this stuff makes me break out like crazy! I see benzyl alcohol has snuck in the second line of ingredients. So that might be the culprit (or it might not be, but I’m blaming it on that!). After a day of using this, I tend to wake up to find 4 or 5 brand new spots on my face. Not good.

It’s really too bad because this is a really nice facial tanner otherwise, and it lasts much longer than anything else I’ve tried before. Heck, it doesn’t even devolve into that infamous DHA stink after 12 hours! But it’s definitely not worth the breaking out for. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 2.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No

Physician’s Formula Organic Wear Bright Booster Oil Elixir

Physician’s Formula has been pushing their oil-based skincare line lately and I’ve been excited to try it, since I generally like their brand. Ugh, and the packaging — please tell me that’s not the cutest little decanter you’ve ever seen, with all the flowers printed on it!

For $13 you get 1 fl oz of this lavender-scented oil. This is a dropper bottle, and you can pull the liquid up from the base by pressing the button on top to bring the liquid into the dropper. Then, put the dropper somewhere on your face, and push to get the oil out. This dropper won’t overdo it, it tends to take in too little product for what you actually need, so you might have to repeat the process. The consistency of the oil is very thin (although not watery).

I keep reading instructions on Ulta and Amazon about how you can use this under your makeup, or for mixing with your foundation. I personally don’t understand that at all. This oil does not dry down remotely fast enough to be used as a primer, and will 100% pill any subsequent makeup. As far as mixing it into your makeup, well… usually oil tends to break makeup down, so while the application might be, at first, brighter and shinier than usual, you may notice your foundation disappears pretty rapidly afterwards. I tend to only use oils at night, either as a standalone product, in conjunction with other moisturizers, or well after the initial moisturizers have dried down.

This certainly will make your face “brighter”, but even with minimal product usage, the overall effect is more “sweaty” than bright. IE: I wouldn’t wear this out in public.

I do like the completely plant-based ingredient listing. This product has both argan and jojoba oil, which are touted as being good for skin repair. But I haven’t seen any huge leaps in my skin condition after using this, particularly with scar healing. On the plus side, it hasn’t broken me out, so this might be worth a shot for a sensitive skin user looking to try an oil.

This product reminds me a lot of Bio-Oil, except I felt like Bio-Oil delivers more results in the way of scar-healing. I probably won’t ever re-buy this product, but I am going to use the entire bottle if not for the AMAZING lavender scent. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 2.5/5

Longevity: n/a

How much I actually like this product: 3/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Maybe

Maybelline The City Mini Palette

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted! I recently had a huge clear out of all my beauty products, and had some blogging inspiration strike me when I found some old favorites — and not so favorite — products in my drawer.

I bought two of these Maybelline powder eye shadows on a whim whilst remembering the errant MUA video I had seen with a relatively good color payout with these products. Generally, it seems like this eye shadow has good reviews. Now, full disclosure, I’m not a huge fan of eye shadow to begin with, and I’ve privy to believe that no drugstore eyeshadow – powder or gel – has a good color payout.

I picked up Chill Brunch and Downtown Sunrise (pictured). I really liked the presentation sparkly silver and beige in Chill Brunch, and wanted to play with the orange in Downtown Sunrise. Sadly, between the two palettes, I wasn’t exactly blown away by any of the turn out. I’ll go over some of the highs and lows of these palettes:

Downtown Sunrise: I think I just grabbed this for the orange, if I’m being honest! The color wasn’t extremely noticeable, but definitely more pigmented than I’ve seen other drugstore-oranges. It actually stuck around on my eyelids for more than three hours! The color payout of the orangey-beige, yellow, and the pink, however, were terrible, much to my dismay.

Chill Brunch: They got it right on the shiny beige here, good coloration and it seemed to stick around for more than three hours. I liked the impact that the shiny gray and brown had – very pigmented, very sparkly — but they weren’t great for my skin coloration, so I had to pass on those. The purples, on the other hand, are good for my skin tone, but the color seemed to disappear or lighten within minutes of application.

An upside to both of these pallets is that I didn’t really have an issue with powder fallout into either my eye or my skin. But all in all, these were still typical Maybelline eyeshadow palettes. Some of the colors are very well pigmented, but a large majority are ineffective, even if you’re using a heavy hand in application. Even if you’re able to pick out a good color from the batch, chances are you won’t see the color after thirty minutes of wear. I did really like the orange from Downtown Sunrise, but there are definitely better palettes for orange than this one. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 2/5

Longevity: 1/5

How much I actually like this product: 1.5/5

Amika The Wizard Detangling Primer

How many times has this scenario happened to you: you go into the hair salon, and your stylist uses a product that makes your hair absolutely amazing. You think, oh, I’ll buy that for myself so I can use that at home! But when you use the product for yourself, the results are not even close to what you got in the salon. Is it just me?!

Anyway, Amika seems to be coming into favor over the long-standing Redken at a few of the salons I’ve gone to in the past year or two. When I went home and googled this particular product some more, I was pleased to find there was no isopropyl alcohol — a weakness of Redken leave-ins — and decided to go ahead and give this a try for myself. Kind of stinks that it’s so expensive, $25 for the 4oz size.

A couple pros: this smells super nice. The packaging is really cute, and the sprayer is, as you would expect, easy to use. Two or three sprays will really go along way in your hair, too. With a light enough hand on the sprayer, this will make your hair feel smooth and soft, and easy to comb through.

But, for day-to-day use (or, in my case, “going into the office” days), I absolutely would not recommend this. I feel like the only time this product might make sense is if you had relegated yourself to NOT styling your hair that day, or if you have EXTREMELY dry/damaged/brittle hair. This stuff is heavy.

The hair closer to the top of my head is relatively healthy, with some obligatory fly-aways due to the frequent coloring. The ends are a bit more brittle from highlighting. When this primer gets applied to the un-highlighted hair, it weighs it down a lot, to the point where it’s almost impossible to style, even after blow-drying. Heck, even trying to straighten it — it’s almost like it protects your hair too much from heat, and refuses to bend at the will of any tools you’re about to use, even when you set it to max power. (I guess that means it’s working as a heat protectant, technically?)

The longevity of this product doesn’t produce great results either. Obviously, if you’ve gone a bit crazy and sprayed too much in your hair, you are going to feel as though your hair is a slick of oil all day. But even if you’ve gone in with just a couple sprays, it seems that the product sort of, settles into the skin of your scalp, which will also make your hair feel heavy. In either case, you might find that your hair becomes very difficult to work with — it’s just flat-out greasy. Which makes this product more suited for managing fly-aways, but… is it worth the greasiness??

I’ve relegated this primer to “damage control” status. If I’ve recently dyed my hair, or I don’t plan on going anywhere for the day that would require me styling my hair, I will use it. Other than that, I’m not sure if it will ever be a re-buy of mine. I’m guessing this is more well-suited for people with very damaged or brittle hair. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 2/5

Bourjois Healthy Mix Anti-Fatigue Foundation

This will be a confusing review because I’m going to list a lot of things that I think are “wrong” with this foundation. But — this is actually one of my favorite foundations that I’ve used!

Right off the bat, this is not a super accessible brand to find in my area. I have to order it from Ebay or Amazon, who ship it from the UK, which guarantees a good ol’ two to three week wait time. Likely because of the shipping involved, I’ve never paid less than $16 for this. Although I need about four pumps of this to fully cover my face, I don’t find myself burning through the product too quickly, so I fortunately don’t need to reorder too often.

My second issue is the shade range. Now — previously I’ve seen some reviews on this brand that the selection of shades wasn’t all that great to begin with, but I just hopped on Bourjois’s website, and it looks like they expanded their range for this foundation. Still, those shades are nearly impossible to find outside of this website — ie: Amazon doesn’t seem to have much in the way of offerings beyond no 58. Then, finding your actual shade seems to be a bit more arduous than other foundations I’ve used. Swatch tests online don’t seem to be anywhere close to what the real color is, and I ended up having to swim through shade 50 to shade 55 to actually determine what my actual shade was. I felt like 51 through 54 were completely the same shade! Final issue was that the colors do skew a bit yellow, or grey, on initial application, but it does oxidize after awhile and seems to fix itself.

Onto the actual application. I would say this is light-medium coverage, but it’s very buildable! I use about three pushes of the applicator for the first pass on my face and rub it in using my fingers. It’s very smooth, and easy to apply. I usually let it dry before applying one more light layer over top. This does have some noticeable settling into fine lines and creases, but nothing that can’t be fixed with a quick touch up, or powder. The dry time is a little bit longer than some other foundations I’ve used, I’ve noticed, but not too bad. And once dried, it’s absolutely smooth sailing for any other product you want to use over it — no pilling, or muddying the other product.

As I mentioned before, the color does skew weirdly yellow or grey at first. But after it’s reacted to the heat of your skin for a few minutes, it seems to dissipate, and matches the skin tone better without the usual orange tint that you tend to get with oxidation (powder also helps, in this case). Coverage, in general, seems to become better after the five minute mark – so if you feel like the color is too light after your first application, you may need to wait a few minutes to see the full effect.

The biggest selling point here is how beautiful the foundation still looks after 12 hours of wear (I know it says 16 hours on the bottle but hey, if it makes it to 8 hours, I’m impressed). REGARDLESS of any product you have underneath or over this foundation, you shouldn’t notice any substantial oil build up or foundation cracking around lines. This really has a phenomenal longevity. Oh, and — this is great for sensitive skin. It doesn’t cause any dryness, itchiness or irritation. No surprise break outs when you remove this, at the end of the day!

I think the only remaining issue I have with this foundation is that I sort of wish it had SPF in it, along with all the other goodies it seems to have (Vitamins B, C, E, and even hyaluronic acid), but I’m probably asking for too much. 😉 But this is really my go-to foundation these days. The coverage and longevity are so far unparalleled in this particular price range.

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 4.75/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

Hada Labo Goku-Jyun Premium Hyaluronic Acid

I REALLY like this product a lot. I just don’t think it quite delivers much in the way of long-term results.

For the price of $14 this plastic bottle has a TON of product. It can be a pain to wait for this to ship from Japan, but you shouldn’t need to re-order it too often just because there is quite a bit of product. You really don’t need a ton of this for application on your face, either.

I’m impressed by the contents and the ingredients overall. Alcohol-free, fragrance-free, oil free, and five types of hyaluronic acid. This has NEVER aggravated my skin in the four months I’ve been using it. This watery gel is colorless, so you won’t have to worry about any white cast.

But… well, the watery gel composition is just the problem. Everytime I read a review that says, “this goes great under makeup!”, I think to myself “what?” Sure, the gel will fully absorb after 30 minutes or so; it’s not going to persist the same way that something like Bio Oil would. But if you wanted a product that was going to make just about anything over or under it pill up, then this is the product to do it. Initially, I thought this lotion was simply removing grit, but no, it just likes to roll off your other products.

So that’s what makes this lotion a little confusing. Where does it go in your routine? It seems like you could use it in place of a regular moisturizer, but if you had an extra emolliant to layer over that moisturizer, well, forget it. And while this lotion IS incredibly hydrating, I don’t find that it quite cuts it in the winter on it’s own. So I’ve been using it as an additive: If my skin dries out after my regular night-time routine, I will very carefully apply this on my skin for an extra layer of hydration.

Probably because I am most likely using it incorrectly, I haven’t seen any noticeable results. It is super hydrating — I think someone with a minimalist skin routine, and normal to oily skin type could probably get by on just using this. But it doesn’t create the effect of “bounciness” in my skin as some of my Cerave products do. Still, the fact that this has never caused any irritation puts this lotion in high regard for me, despite how finicky it can be during application. ~A

Buy Hada Labo Goku-jyun HA Lotion here:

Perceived efficacy: 3/5

Longevity: 3/5

How much I actually like this product: 4.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

Derma-E Vitamin C Renewing Moisturizer

I’ve always heard anecdotes about Vitamin C serums being far more effective than moisturizers, since the type and the percentage of vit C is higher in the serum. Be that as it may, my skin is still crazy sensitive, and sometimes these serums simply don’t dry in time before I need to leave for work. So this was my first ever Vitamin C creme moisturizer.

It comes in a pump bottle — this is relevant because it keeps the Vitamin C stable, since exposure to air will cause it to break down. So if you learn anything from this review, don’t buy anything Vit C related that’s in a jar or tub. I digress. There’s quite a bit of product in here and it’s another case of one or two pumps going a long way.

The cream is white but absorbs quickly and colorlessly, although some white residue might cling a little bit to peach fuzz you might have on your face (been there…), so be careful of that. Don’t use this as your only moisturizer, it’s not at all heavy enough — use something over it. Probably one of the bigger selling points of this product, for me, is the scent: It’s AMAZING!! If you like Fruit Loops. Which I do.

There’s essentially no dry time, so it can go under any of your other products without any pilling issues. Make sure you wear sunscreen with this product, as Vitamin C will increase your sun sensitivity. Now, speaking of skin issues, you might encounter a break out or two initially, because Vit C is an exfoliant, but you shouldn’t expect to see anything terribly uncouth. Unless, of course, you have sensitivities to oils, in which case stay away. This has a few of them. Other than that, though, the ingredient listing is largely naturals, and has no drying alcohols.

As for the overall effect, I noticed my skin was “brighter” for the first hour or two of wearing this — longer term, it seemed my pores had shrunk in size, and some of my skin tone had evened out. As for deeper icepick scarring, ehh — this product didn’t help much.

Considering moisturizers are not as powerful as serums, I think this product is shockingly effective and fast-moving: If you have any spots that are in the process of healing, this moisturizer will speed up the process tenfold of turning the skin over. I had a bad patch of skin with superficial scarring that I thought would take weeks to heal, and using this product did it in about 3 days. Unfortunately that meant my skin was quite literally flaking off in the middle of work. Not my best look.

All in all, though, I would repurchase this $17 bottle. It works, it smells good, it’s lightweight, and it’s pretty darn effective. ~A

Buy this powerhouse Vitamin C moisturizer here:

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 4.5/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Maybe